Aquatic fluxes of carbon and nutrients link terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Within forests, storm events drive both the delivery of carbon and nitrogen to the forest floor and the export of these solutes from the land via streams. To increase understanding of the relationships between hydrologic event character and the relative fluxes of carbon and nitrogen in throughfall, stemflow and streams, we measured dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and total dissolved nitrogen (TDN) concentrations in each flow path for 23 events in a forested watershed in Vermont, USA. DOC and TDN concentrations increased with streamflow, indicating their export was limited by water transport of catchment stores. DOC and TDN concentrations in throughfall and stemflow decreased exponentially with increasing precipitation, suggesting that precipitation removed a portion of available sources from tree surfaces during the events. DOC and TDN fluxes were estimated for 76 events across a 2-year period. For most events, throughfall and stemflow fluxes greatly exceeded stream fluxes, but the imbalance narrowed for larger storms (>30 mm). The largest 10 stream events exported 40% of all stream event DOC whereas those same 10 events contributed 14% of all throughfall export. Approximately 2–5 times more DOC and TDN was exported from trees during rain events than left the catchment via streams annually. The diverging influence of event size on tree versus stream fluxes has important implications for forested ecosystems as hydrological events increase in intensity and frequency due to climate change.
|Title||Event scale relationships of DOC and TDN fluxes in throughfall and stemflow diverge from stream exports in a forested catchment|
|Authors||Kevin A. Ryan, Thomas Adler, Ann Chalmers, Julia Perdrial, James B. Shanley, Aron Stubbins|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||New England Water Science Center|